Estonia minister: Belarus needs foreign contacts to promote democratic development

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Aug. 28, 2012, 8:50 a.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Interfax-Ukraine

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (L) and his Estonian counterpart Urmas Paet (R) speak during a presse conference after a meeting at the Latvian Open-Air Etnographic museum in Riga on August 23, 2012. German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle arrived for talks with Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts on energy and defence on the 73rd anniversary of the secret Soviet-Nazi Molotov-Ribbentrop pact under which the three Baltic states lost independence during World War II.

TALLINN - It is essential for democratic development in Belarus that Belarusians "should be given the opportunity to establish contacts with the world," Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet argued on Aug. 27.

"We know from experience how essential it is in a transitional period to receive support from one's friends and neighbors. For this reason, we have decided to set up the European Partnership Center in Tallinn, which enables us to share our experience and knowledge and support our eastern partners in their development," Paet said at a seminar for Belarusian pro-democracy activists at the Eastern Partnership Center.

"The recent diplomatic conflict between Belarus and Sweden has aggravated the situation and has made assistance to Belarus from the European Union more difficult, but this diplomatic crisis must not affect projects that aim to give direct support to Belarusian society," he said.

The seminar closes on Wednesday, Aug.29. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski was present at its opening.

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